There comes a time in any job. Any endeavor. Any project. When things start to get really unfun. It has nothing to do with the workload. It has zero to do with the politics. Or even the constant obstacles. It doesn’t matter if you’re working your dream job, running your own company, or invested in someone else’s org.
The unfun doesn’t have to come. But so often it does. The things you were once energized by suddenly are massive burdens. The things that would have casually slid off of your back are now permanent chips on your shoulder. The stressful day you’d wake up from the next day, now stays with you all week.
It’s like you have nothing. Literally nothing to give your team. Your reports. Your managers. Your audience. Your work. Your loved ones who are normally there to re-energize you.
You’ve taken that pool of energy, of light, of fire to give and you drained it. You literally burned the candle at both ends for other people, other things, other projects and put yourself in the back seat.
You burnt out.
But it takes you a while to figure out that’s what it is. First you go searching for all the problems other people are putting on you and try to navigate them. Then you wonder if you’re just lost and unhappy. Then you go in search for objectivity realizing it’s something more. It’s something no on-top of the world work day could fix and no money in the world could solve.
You’ve drained your fire and lost the fun. All of the fun. And you’ve gotta find your way back.
Early in my career I didn’t know what burning out looked like. I didn’t know that throwing myself into a job I love love loved could eventually widdle me away to a dollop of wax and an exhausted wick. I thought a job I was passionate about, a team I adored and work that was meaningful was enough.
None of those things, not even the perfect job, can save you from yourself if you’re not taking care of you.
I learned that the hard way after a year on the road more than I was in my own bed. Pouring myself into my work. Trying to keep up with my life. And definitely not keeping up with me. Add in loving and losing and in the span of a few weeks everything had lost its fun. Challenges were daunting. And personal heartbreak almost unraveled me, which in a different situation would have been just a tough couple weeks to get through.
I was on the road to burn out and had no idea. No clue. Until a friend years wiser than me pulled me aside and said girllllll you’re far too talented to burn yourself out right now. I don’t care where you go next month, but you’re taking those two weeks and you’re going. I love you, but get out of here.
I was falling off the ledge and she grabbed me by the back of the shirt and kept me from plummeting. I booked a flight that week for India and had my life utterly changed. I realized what it meant to separate my identity and my work. I understood what love was. What connection was. And where real resilience came from (within).
Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky to have a peer watching out for them like that. Not everyone has someone in their circle to put up a road sign that says “TURN AROUND. BURN OUT AHEAD.” Not everyone can see that sign and then hop on a flight to India. Which is why I’m obsessively excited my dear friend Emilie Aries has put together an incredible program that will grab your shirt as you’re falling off the cliff to burn out.
We’re all working too hard not to enjoy it. If you’ve lost the fun. If you’re all hustle and no heart in your life, get away for a week. Get support. And remember…
I know. I’ve been there.
This article was originally published on Maxie McCoy.
Photo: Snapwire Snaps